In a joint statement released by UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and other humanitarian groups, the organization warned that further operations would likely need to be halted because it cannot provide “principled” humanitarian assistance in the absence of female aid workers.
“Banning women from humanitarian work has immediate life-threatening consequences for all Afghans. Currently, a number of time-critical programs have been halted due to a shortage of female staff,” the statement read.
“We will strive to continue with time-critical, life-saving operations unless impeded while we better assess the scope, parameters, and consequences of this directive for those we know. I serve.
“But we foresee that many activities will need to be halted because we cannot provide humanitarian assistance in principle without female aid workers.”
It noted that the move comes at a time when more than 28 million people in Afghanistan need assistance as the country “grapples with the risk of famine, economic decline, prolonged poverty and a winter hard”.
The statement reiterated the UN’s condemnation of the Taliban’s restrictions on women’s rights. “We urge the de facto authorities to reconsider and reverse this directive, as well as all directives that ban women from school, university and public life.
“No country can exclude half of its population from contributing to society.”
The Taliban last week ordered all national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to prevent their female employees from coming to work and suspended higher education for all female students in the country. The move drew condemnation from around the world.
In a statement on Tuesday, the UNSC expressed “deep concern” and called for “the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and girls in Afghanistan.”
New restrictions are another step in Taliban strategy suppression of freedoms of Afghan women, after taking over the country in August 2021.
Although the Taliban have repeatedly vowed to protect the rights of girls and women, the group has done the opposite, stripping away the hard-won freedoms that women have fought tirelessly for the past two decades.
Some of the Taliban’s most prominent restrictions have to do with education, with girls also banned from returning to high school in March. The move devastated many students and their families, who described to CNN their dreams of becoming doctors, teachers or engineers.
At least half a dozen major foreign aid groups say they are temporarily suspending operations in Afghanistan following the ban on female NGO workers.